PORTLAND, Ore. – About 130 people bought marijuana that was tainted by high levels of a toxic pesticide, prompting the Oregon Health Authority to issue a health alert.
The pot was sold between Oct. 17-19 at the New Leaf dispensary, located at 3325 NE Riverside Dr. in McMinnville. It was sold under the strain names “Dr. Jack” (batch number G6J0051-02) and “Marion Berry” (batch number G6J0051-01).
The batches failed a pesticide test due to the presence of the pesticide “spinosad.” The tainted cannabis had spinosad levels that were between 100 and 200 times the level allowed by the OHA. The chemical is used to kill insects including spider mites and fruit flies.
"There is no level of spinosad that has been shown to be safe in cannabis that is smoked," says David Farrer, Ph.D., a public health toxicologist with OHA. "Our action levels serve as a pre-market screen, but should not be considered 'safe levels.'"
The OHA has an action level for spinosad at 0.2 parts per million, which is what the EPA says is safe for vegetables like asparagus. But OHA notes there have not been studies on the effects of smoking the chemical as opposed to eating it. It’s generally thought that smoking pesticides enhances their toxicity.
OHA said the grower who sold the tainted marijuana had the pot tested by a licensed laboratory and the only tainted pot came from that grower and was sold only at New Leaf. The health authority is investigating why the tainted pot was sold even though it failed safety testing.
Anyone who is concerned about exposure or has health issues after using tainted pot should call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222.